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Office of the President, Michael A. McRobbie

President McRobbie speaking at the podium

2013 Indiana University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame Induction

Henke Hall of Champions
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
October 4, 2013

Welcome

I am very pleased to be here this evening for what is Laurie’s and my first time to attend the Indiana University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony. We are delighted to be here to help celebrate the 2013 inductees.

I am very pleased that two members of the Indiana University Board of Trustees are with us tonight. Would you join me in welcoming the vice chair of the Trustees, MaryEllen Bishop and her husband Michael, and Trustee Phil Eskew and his wife Ann?

As you know, this very distinguished class of Hall of Fame inductees includes one of my predecessors, Indiana University’s 10th president, William Lowe Bryan. I am delighted that President Bryan’s great-great-nieces, Anne Bryan Weston and Betsy Weston van der Sluys were able to join us for this occasion, along with Betsy’s husband, Pierre, and their daughter Meghan. Also with us tonight are Susan Dosier Bryan, a distant cousin of William Lowe Bryan, and Nancy Bryan, whose late husband was also a cousin. Would all of you stand for our greeting?

And, of course, it is also a great pleasure to see so many of the former athletes and coaches who have contributed so much to the success of Indiana University athletics and to the wonderful traditions that have endured for more than a century.

The Hallmarks of Indiana University Athletics

As IU’s 16th president, the late Myles Brand, said during his tenure as president of the NCAA, sports have a unique ability to teach students what it takes to be successful and persist in life. “There is no better place to learn life skills than athletics,” he said in 2008. “The educational value that athletics adds to the collegiate experience is why universities invest in athletics.”1

Indiana University’s athletics programs have long reflected the deeply-rooted values of our university community:  integrity, a commitment to excellence, perseverance in the face of adversity, and a commitment to working hard and to working as part of a team, and an unwavering commitment to playing by the rules. These are the hallmarks of Indiana athletics.

The accomplishments of IU’s sports teams also provide a sense of excitement and pride for the extended university community and those accomplishments continue to bind alumni and friends to IU. No matter where I go around the world, IU alumni and friends are eager to hear about the most recent accomplishments of our various teams.

During the last academic year, I attended at least one event for each of our 24 sports in Bloomington, and Laurie joined me for most of them. To the best of our knowledge, no president and First Lady of IU had ever done this before. Our goal was to personally see all of our teams in action and to encourage and support our student-athletes in all sports—not just the high-profile ones.

We were both enormously impressed by the passion and commitment we witnessed among student-athletes in all 24 sports. Across the board, they were equally at home talking about their studies and their career aspirations as they were talking about their athletic endeavors. All of them, of course, have the support of highly dedicated and professional staff and coaches and of the loyal fans and supporters who regularly attend their events.

A Landmark Year

In the course of attending these practices, games, and tournaments over the last year, Laurie and I had the privilege of experiencing not only the great breadth of IU’s athletic programs, but we also had the privilege of experiencing what was, arguably, one of the best years ever for Indiana University athletics.

Our men’s soccer team, of course, won the eighth national championship in program history, led by head coach Todd Yeagley and associate head coach Brian Maisonneuve—who are being honored tonight not only as outstanding coaches, but for their acclaimed contributions to the program as players. Todd, of course, joins his father, the legendary Jerry Yeagley, in the Hall of Fame.

My athletic background is in cricket and rugby, but my predecessor, William Lowe Bryan, is being honored tonight as a baseball player and for his enormous contributions to the growth of Indiana University. President Bryan presided over the transformation of IU from a small, traditional liberal arts college into a modern research university. More schools were established at IU during his tenure than at any time until the last few years, and those schools have remained among IU’s core academic schools for many decades. He was also the leading advocate for Indiana University’s admission to the prestigious Association of American Universities, one of the most elite organizations in higher education, which IU joined in 1909. Next week, we will celebrate an important anniversary on this campus that has a direct connection to William Lowe Bryan: the 125th anniversary of IU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. As a faculty member at IU, Professor Bryan established the first research and teaching laboratory devoted to experimental psychology in the Midwest, and the fourth such facility established in the United States. It is now the oldest continually operating psychology lab in the United States, and it was the nucleus for what is now our highly regarded Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. 

We all just witnessed, of course, IU’s best year ever in William Lowe Bryan’s sport of baseball, as coach Tracy Smith led the team to the College World Series for the first time. 

At Indiana University, swimming and diving have long been a major part of our tradition of excellence. Among the program’s alumni are many Olympic medalists, the latest being Margaux Farrell, who I had the pleasure of getting to know when she served as a member of the Board of Aeons, an organization of a select group of students who conduct research and advise me on issues of importance to the campus. The swimming and diving program has also produced many national and conference champions and All-Americans, including Olympians Larry Barbiere and Amy McGrath, who are being inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight. 

Likewise, track and field has been an important part of IU’s history of athletic excellence for many years. I had the pleasure of meeting Olympic medalist and 5-time national champion high jumper, Derek Drouin, who graduated in May as one of the most-decorated IU student-athletes of all time. Tonight we honor track great Mike Goodrich for his accomplishments at IU. 

And finally, the long-time head coach of men’s golf, the late Bob Fitch, is being honored tonight.  Coach Fitch’s long and distinguished career reminds us that our coaches in every sport are educators first and foremost.

I would be remiss if I failed to also mention the splendid additions to IU’s athletic facilities that have been dedicated in the last year: Bart Kaufman Field, the wonderful new home of our outstanding baseball program, and Andy Mohr Field, the beautiful new home of IU softball. I extend our deepest gratitude, once again, to Bart Kaufman and Andy Mohr, for their generous gifts that made these splendid new facilities possible.

IU Athletics has also made a historic contribution to what will soon be the newest academic facilitiy on the Bloomington campus. Construction is now underway for a new building that will be home to IU’s new School of Global and International Studies. Half of the funding for the new building is coming from IU’s Big Ten Network revenues. This represents, by far, the largest commitment from athletics revenue to support the core academic mission of Indiana University that has ever been made, and, we believe, one of the largest ever in the nation.

Commitment to Academic Excellence

It is important to remember, of course, that in all sports at Indiana University, our athletes are, and always will be, students as well as athletes. Laurie and I recently hosted a dinner in honor of the women’s cross country team, who earned the highest grade point average of any IU team last semester. Many of those young women were among the 55 IU student-athletes who earned a GPA of 3.7 or higher last year and were named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars. I am proud to note that we rank near the top of the conference in the number of students who received this prestigious honor.

These outstanding students embody the pledge we make to you and to all of our alumni that we will honor this great university by never pursuing athletic achievement at the expense of academic excellence.

Conclusion

The dedicated student-athletes, coaches, and staff who have contributed to the great success of IU’s athletic endeavors represent the very best of Indiana University. 

Our current student-athletes stand on the shoulders of those who came before them.

It is only fitting then, that we honor those who have contributed so much to “the glory of old IU” by inducting them into the Athletics Hall of Fame.

On behalf of Laurie and myself, and on behalf of the entire university, I extend our congratulations to the members of this outstanding class of honorees. 

Thank you very much.

Source Notes

  1. Myles Brand, address to the National Football Foundation’s 11th Annual Play it Smart Conference, delivered July 25, 2008 in Arlington Texas.